Billabong receives second, matching U.S. takeover offer

Australian surfwear company Billabong International Ltd has received a second takeover proposal from a U.S. private equity and retail consortium that matches a A$556 million ($586.55 million) bid by its U.S. boss Paul Naude.

Billabong Current Collection (photo: Billabong)

The new offer comes from a consortium led by San-Francisco-based private equity form Altamont Capital Partners and clothing group VF Corporation, the owner of brands including Wrangler, Lee and The North Face, Billabong said on Monday.

Billabong will allow the Altamont/VF Consortium to see its books, after already opening the accounts to the consortium led by board director Naude and New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Both groups have offered A$1.10 per share for the struggling Australian company, which issued its third profit warning in a year in December.

Billabong said it would evaluate the proposals to determine whether it can secure a deal "at a price and on terms the board would recommend."

"This process is expected to take about six weeks," the firm added in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

Naude and Sycamore Partners unveiled their approach on December 18, the same day Billabong announced its latest profit warning, when it said annual earnings could be 15 percent lower than previously forecast.

The company had a tumultuous 2012, alienating investors after rejecting a A$3.30 bid by TPG Capital TPG.UL in February as too low. Subsequent offers of A$1.45 from TPG and Bain Capital were withdrawn after due diligence.

Billabong, whose brands include its namesake, as well as Von Zipper and Element, has sold off key assets and replaced its chief executive in the past year as a result of profit downgrades.

To turn the tide, new Chief Executive Launa Inman recently outlined a four-year strategy to simplify the business and close stores.

Billabong's shares closed at $A0.845, down 1.7 percent, before the announcement on Monday.

On Friday, Inman announced the appointment of Peter Myers, a former Ten Network and APN News and Media executive, as Chief Financial Officer after the departure of former CFO Craig White shortly before Christmas.

Naude stepped aside from his position as president of Billabong's U.S. business to mount the takeover bid.

($1 = 0.9479 Australian dollars)

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